Make us your home page
Instagram

Calendar, weather put a damper on Fourth of July fireworks sales in Tampa Bay area

All things here go boom Bradley Williams, 14, looks over a box at the Galaxy Fireworks stand on State Road 60 in Brandon on Monday. Bradley was helping his sister, who works at the stand and likes to see what is in the many different fireworks boxes.  

SKIP O’ROURKE | Times

All things here go boom Bradley Williams, 14, looks over a box at the Galaxy Fireworks stand on State Road 60 in Brandon on Monday. Bradley was helping his sister, who works at the stand and likes to see what is in the many different fireworks boxes. 

Fourth of July fireworks sales could prove more of a dud than a bang thanks to the calendar and Mother Nature.

Pyrotechnic vendors burst into a collective groan whenever the holiday falls midweek, rather than near a weekend when many people are off work.

"It's a known fact. Wednesday is the worst day for us," said Elizabeth Musselwhite, co-editor of the monthly American Fireworks News. "People still have parties. They just won't do as much on the actual day."

Then, about 10 days before the holiday, a second punch to the $1 billion industry: Tropical Storm Debby struck, washing out local advance sales.

"I think everyone was affected by the storm," said Sharon Hunnewell-Johnson, president of Galaxy Fireworks, which has tents across the region and a year-round store in Tampa. "July third and fourth are the busiest days for buying fireworks, but a lot of people plan ahead and start firing them off early."

The storm knocked down four Galaxy tents in the Tampa Bay area and forced many others to close for a few days. Employees had to restock and reorganize tents. Fireworks that got wet were ruined.

Sky Candy Fireworks' seasonal retail site in Brandon suffered no damage from the rain. Sales, however, were slower over the weekend.

"In the middle of the week, I'm sure it's tough for people to take a lot of time off,'' said Jim Nyers, who owns Sky Candy with Steve Traczyk. "A lot of people have to work the next day.''

The company anticipated a decrease in sales and ordered 20 percent less on some items. But they remained hopeful that people would shop last minute and expected celebrations would spill over the weekend if the rain stays away.

Fireworks sales in other parts of the country also have taken a hit but for opposite reasons: hot weather and dry conditions.

In June, Colorado's governor banned the private use of fireworks in response to deadly wildfires that burned hundreds of homes. Many cities canceled their firework shows in favor of live music and other, less combustible, activities.

In the Midwest, record temperatures, brush fires and drought conditions prompted similar bans in much of Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky and Missouri.

Any dip in sales would be slight compared with the explosive growth the U.S. industry has experienced during the past 15 years. Revenue from display and consumer fireworks increased from $610 million in 2000 to $967 million in 2011. The weight of fireworks sold jumped from 153 million pounds in 2000 to 234 million pounds in 2011.

"Not only has this industry survived in this tough economy, we're thriving," said Julie Heckman, executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association.

She attributes the success to a surge in patriotism after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, an increase in family "staycations" and a liberalization of fireworks laws. Many governments relaxed rules to boost tax revenue. Only four states prohibit consumer fireworks: Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.

Tim Edney, a manager of Phantom Fireworks in Tampa, has seen a steady climb in business, regardless of last week's washout. A Wednesday holiday isn't ideal, he said, but it might mean more people will stay home and celebrate.

And there's always next year to look forward to. In 2013, Independence Day falls on a Thursday, one day closer to the weekend.

Susan Thurston can be reached at sthurston@tampabay.com or (813) 225-3110.

Calendar, weather put a damper on Fourth of July fireworks sales in Tampa Bay area 07/03/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 10:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Target Corp. reaches $18.5 million settlement with 47 states over data breach

    Retail

    NEW YORK — Target Corp. has reached an $18.5 million settlement over a massive data breach that occurred before Christmas in 2013.

    Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia have reached an $18.5 million settlement with Target Corp. to resolve the states' probe into the discounter's massive pre-Christmas data breach in 2013. 
[Associated Press]
  2. John Morgan 'prepared to invest $100M' in medical marijuana

    State Roundup

    John Morgan spent nearly $7 million pushing two statewide ballot initiatives to expand medical marijuana throughout the state of Florida.

    Personal injury lawyer John Morgan says he's ready to invest $100 million in medical marijuana. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  3. Google tracking real-world sales as well as online ads

    Business

    SAN FRANCISCO — Google already monitors your online shopping — but now it's also keeping an eye on what you're buying in real-world stores as part of its latest effort to sell more digital advertising.

     Google already monitors your online shopping - but now it's also keeping an eye on what you're buying in real-world stores as part of its latest effort to sell more digital advertising. 
[Associated Press]

  4. Labor Department green-lights retirement savings rule

    Personal Finance

    WASHINGTON — A Labor Department rule that would set higher standards for the advice brokers give to retirement savers will go into effect June 9 without further delay, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta said Monday.

  5. Report: CEOs got biggest raise since 2013 with Charter Communications CEO on top

    Corporate

    NEW YORK — The typical CEO at the biggest U.S. companies got an 8.5 percent raise last year, raking in $11.5 million in salary, stock and other compensation last year, according to a study by executive data firm Equilar for The Associated Press. That's the biggest raise in three years.

    Charter Communications CEO Thomas Rutledge -- whose company took over Bright House Networks last year -- was the highest paid CEO in 2016, according to a study carried out by executive compensation data firm Equilar and The Associated Press. 
[Associated Press file photo]